Car chiefs back call to end demonisation of diesel

Chiefs at some of the biggest carmakers have backed a campaign in the UK to "challenge the increasing demonisation of diesel".

Launched by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) the campaign includes "a diesel facts myth-busting guide" which would be available online and in leaflet form from car companies and dealers.

According to the SMMT, the campaign being launched as a YouGov survey of 2,166 UK adults showed that 87 per cent were unaware of new EU vehicle emission standards that all cars must meet from September.

The SMMT had been calling on policy makers as also those considering imposing local measures against diesels to avoid penalising one fuel technology over another.

According to the poll, 54 per cent incorrectly blamed cars and commercial vehicles as the biggest cause of air pollution in the UK and only one in five (19 per cent) correctly identified power stations as the biggest contributors of nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Today, companies including BMW UK, Ford of Britain, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen joined the SMMT in the campaign to increase awareness about the latest low-emission car technology.

The SMMT was also urging policy makers and those considering imposing local measures against diesels to avoid confusing motorists by penalising one fuel technology over another.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "Today's diesel engines are the cleanest ever, and the culmination of billions of pounds of investment by manufacturers to improve air quality.

"Bans and parking taxes on diesel vehicles therefore make no sense from an environmental point of view. We need to avoid penalising one vehicle technology over another and instead encourage the uptake of the latest low emission vehicles by consumers.

"The allegations against diesel cars made in recent months threaten to misguide policy making and undermine public confidence in diesel. It's time to put the record straight."

Emissions from diesel engines, including particulates and nitrogen oxides, had been linked to heart disease, cancer and asthma, while air pollution was said to inflict a toll on 29,000 lives in the UK.

Following decades of tax incentives favouring diesel vehicles, a number of drivers would now need to pay penalties for choosing diesel cars that cost less to tax but did more damage to air quality.

London mayor Boris Johnson had proposed addition of £10 to the daily congestion charge for diesel cars, while Islington residents would soon need to pay an extra £96 for a diesel parking permit.